The Vatican is open to creating an ecclesial jurisdiction for Lutherans who wish to join the Roman Catholic Church but preserve aspects of their liturgical and ecclesial patrimony, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has said. In an interview with Zenit published on 24 Oct 2012, Cardinal Kurt Koch said the Vatican would entertain creating a structure similar to the Anglican Ordinariate for Lutherans.
Such a structure was possible due to a convergence of beliefs on certain doctrinal issues, Cardinal Koch said, as progress had been made in the ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans in Germany.
He noted that the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification signed in August of 1999 had been a “great step forward in the ecumenical dialogue with Lutherans,” and the current talks were centered round discussing the “ecclesiological consequences” of the declaration.
However, “evangelicals have another understanding of the Church” as compared to Catholics. “It is not enough mutually to recognize one another as a Church. What is needed is a serious theological dialogue on what constitutes the essence of the Church.”
Asked if the Vatican would offer Lutherans an option akin to Anglicanorum coetibus, Cardinal Koch said this was possible. However he stated he wanted to make it clear that the Anglican Ordinariate “not an initiative of Rome, but came from the Anglican Church.”
“The Holy Father sought a solution” to this request for union from Anglicans and subsequently found a “broad solution” where Anglicans “ecclesial and liturgical traditions were taken into ample consideration. If similar desires are expressed by the Lutherans, then we will have to reflect on them. However, the initiative is up to the Lutherans,” Cardinal Koch said.
The Vatican has created three personal ordinariates over the past two years for former Anglicans: the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham for England and Wales, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter for North America, and the Personal Ordinariate of the Southern Cross for Australia. Approximately 100 former Anglican clergy and 8 former Anglican bishops have been received and re-ordained to serve the congregations, whose members number approximately 4000.